Archive for February, 2007

Dear Crowd Wisdommer,

Will you help me with the design of our website? These are the first two examples I got back from my designer.

Which color scheme do you like most?

Will you play a perfection game on it?

  • Rate the design on a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is a perfect design.
  • The rating must be supported with critical analysis of a particular form:
  • After saying the score (for example, “I give your design a 7”), the scorer must state the following:
    • Specifically, what about the design was good and what earned the points in the score.
    • Specifically, what the performer must do in the next iteration of the design to be awarded a perfect 10.

    If you can not add anything, you must give it a ten.
    If you can add only a small improvement (in your eyes) you must rate it accordingly

    (You can read more on the perfection game on the website of TheMcCarthy Show, in their book SoftwareForYourHead or listen to their PodCasts

  • Update:
    You can also check out my new version that I call the improvement game and the video version of the original perfection game
    Click here for the picture in Flickr

    Click here for the picture in Flickr

    Technorati Tags: PairCoaching,Design,Website,PodCasts,Wisdom of Crowds

    Some projects are guided, others are not. When there is a leader we may notice that there is quite a difference in leadership. We can even say there is a lot of difference between leaders. Even speaking of different styles of leadership is putting it mildly, not only do we notice a difference in the approach of fulfilling a task, but also that different leaders take on different tasks. That is why we ask here some questions, and try to formulate some answers.

    1. Why do people want a leader?
      To realize a project with a leader, has of course a lot of practical benefits.

     

    1. The leader can make sure that no important task will be overlooked, and can take care that everybody at all times has a task. He can make sure that most of the resources are put in for the tasks that need most time. He can make sure that everybody got a task that is most appropriate to his possibilities. In short, he can take care of the coordination.
    2. The leader can make sure that the whole team goes in one direction, so that individual members do not have to worry about a direction, and do not have to keep an eye on the others, to see if they keep more or less to the same direction.
    3. The leader can stimulate the dialogue between the team-members. He can make sure that people listen to each other, even if they wouldn’t do that easily otherwise.
    4. In general, the leader can take care of all the tasks that come under management, or make sure that these are taken care of: planning, distribution of responsibilities, controlling and solving problems, making sure that people work together, taking care of a good bond with the environment, making sure that contractual commitments are taken care of, etc.

    There is altogether another aspect that influences the choice to work under leadership: the psychological aspect. Where people love to have a lot of power, there are a lot less people eager to take on a lot of responsibilities. The well-known Milgram experiment proved this in a rather surprising way. Milgram noticed, to his surprise, that almost everybody was willing to administrate deadly electrical shocks to people, when there was a leader saying: go on, I’ll take the responsibility! This experiment was repeated hundreds of time, with every time the same results. The research showed as well that it was no sadism on the part of these people, but only the refusal of responsibility. On the internet-encyclopedia Wikipedia one can find a reasonable good description of this experiment. Subordinates expect from their leader hat he acts as a good protecting father or mother, and do not feel safe without a leader. This looking for security from a strong leader is even strengthened by the seeking of security in a group, the wish to be “included”. In extreme cases we notice how these psychological tendencies – for instance in the USA where 9/11 created such a fear – make people look for simplistic ready answers from their leaders, sacrifice eagerly all their critical qualities, just to not have to bear responsibility, and make them accept that ersatz enemies are being attacked, just to be able to stay in the illusion that nothing like this will ever happen again. The illusion that big strong daddy will protect them from all evil.

    Looking for protection is one strong tendency we all carry in us, in some people more than in others. There are other powers in us as well, there wouldn’t be any leaders otherwise, and no people preferring to work independently or self-employed.

    More about that in a next item.

    For the moment we notice here already the benefits of the directive or even authoritarian leader: besides the practical benefits of coordination and management, he is giving security to these looking for a sense of safety, the need thereof springing from childhood and this need can be very strong for some. Frightening or unsure situations will make the success of the directive leaders.

    1. Why do people refuse a leader?

    It is an ideal that rises up again and again: the team wherein creativity, respect, self-realization, freedom, responsibility, friendship, are values that are held high, and where no leader is needed. The team that guides itself. The team wherein only a healthy competition lives and no relation-destroying passion for power.

    2.1 What are the factual benefits of a team like that? It is a paradox that many of the fundamental benefits of a team without a leader are by-products of its disadvantages. The preceding chapter showed the advantages of working with a leader: taking care of the coordination, taking care of safety, direction, and taking care of a great deal of the responsibility. In a directive, well-guided team, nobody has to worry too much about the work of another team-member, about the feelings of another, or about the rightness of one’s own work: the management and the structure take care of all that. One can be working perfectly egoistical and irresponsible, and still, in the whole, everything works. In a group without a leader this is impossible. Or nothing gets ever done, or one has to count on everybody. Human relationships are far more important. If there is a leader, some meetings are only necessary to show the directives. Sometimes real consultative meetings are needed, since reality proves that people participate more actively when they participate in the decision-making. But even if some people are against the decisions, they can be forced to participate. Without a leader deliberation is needed until everybody agrees to participate. This can take a long time, especially when the group is relatively new. But thereafter there exists a dynamic one finds rarely in guided teams. During the work itself, the partners have to consider each other, also each others feelings. Otherwise everything will go constantly wrong. The cohesion of the team is very strongly strengthened. The forces of the group-dynamics working in a team like this make sure that everyone is strongly confronted with his own being, his own responsibilities. Whoever cannot take this leaves the team, or evolves, or breaks down. People, who do not consider the others, get a lot of pressure from the team to change that attitude. People, who don’t take care of themselves, also suffer. In teams where the tasks can be done independently, where people function independently, there are no significant problems. In teams where a lot of consultation and adjustment is needed, the task is not so simple. When it works, it proves an enriching experience for everybody, to compare with an interesting partner-relationship. And what is more, the members of the team are motivating each other, so that everybody gives the best of himself with pleasure.

    2.2 Teams wherein the members change frequently, and stay on building on one whole, are quite often able to realize very complex structures, structures that would have been impossible to be realized by one person. The construction of our culture is such a complex structure, realized by a group without a leader. Our legislation is another example. This last one is a very good example: all the ethical laws and principles that were presented by philosophers in the course of history were simplistic and didn’t take in account the day to day realities. Only the democratic power-play made sure that a legislation – although complex – was made wherein as much as possible everybody is included. That this construction is not completed is not due to the lack of leadership, or to bad leadership, but due to the fact that many parties still have no say, that we have no real democracy yet, especially when seen on a world-scale.
    In nature there is an endless series of examples of structures, made out of many different elements, which organize themselves. Some (f.i. Kaufmann, 1995) think that this (i.e. the self-organizing quality of nature) is the most important force of evolution, rather than the “survival of the fittest”.
    It is very tempting to think that this also gives the best results in groups.

    1. How can the benefits of working without a leader be kept by a certain way of leadership?

    Both preceding chapters showed the advantages and disadvantages of working with or without a leader.
    The question can arise in how far a team-leader can guide his team in such a way that the benefits of a team without a leader can be kept. Or maybe even strengthened?

    A team with a leader who works only to further the process (and is not directive) answers this for the greatest part. What does it mean, stimulating the process? It means that the leader especially takes care of the communication in the group, makes sure that everyone is motivated, that the conditions for working are optimal, and that the contacts with the outside world are going smoothly. Solving problems is not his main task, he tries to make sure that this is done by the team.

    Let us look at how the advantages and disadvantages of the two preceding items are working in a group with such a leader.

    1. Concerning the practical benefits cited in chapter 1, these are, with the exception of item 3 (“The leader stimulates the dialogue between the team-members”) a lot less present with the process-coach. The leader who just stimulates the process can pay attention to the tasks of management, but it is not his priority. As process-coach he will take care that these tasks are done. The advantage of the leader keeping an eye on these tasks is kept in every way, and he has to keep an eye on the one doing the management, so he doesn’t get all the power, otherwise a pseudo-manager would rise up, concerning himself only with the structure.
    2. Giving security to people is on the one hand very explicit, the team-members can get a strong feeling that the leader cares about them and sees them and values them as human beings. On the other side, team-members who want to avoid their own responsibilities and rather avoid making choices are quite often heavily disappointed. The process-coaching leader, who does not point at the direction himself, confronts very strongly his co-workers with his attitude. Also, in conflicts between the team-members, the process-coaching leader will nut cut the knot himself, but will demand a dialogue between his co-workers, and demand that they learn to get on with each other by themselves. We notice here some of the same phenomena as seen in a group without a leader. But here the process-coaching leader can act as moderator in the talk between the parties. In frightening situations group-members will not choose for such a leader. Actually, they will choose rather for pseudo-safety than for a realistic fear.
    3. Realizing very complex, creative structures as made in groups without a leader, is also possible in teams with a process-stimulating structure. After all, the leader provides neither the direction nor the solution. These are provided through consultation by the group-members, as in a group without a leader. But since now there is a leader present, he can point out to his team-members when they are working too much in different directions. So less time will be lost in needless work. It is also less likely that the goal will be overlooked as is the case in groups without a leader.

    Process-stimulating leadership is very much like coaching. The training of a sports-team is a nice example of the importance of stimulating the process. A football-team from Greece becomes then Olympic Champion, without a doubt less due to the present individual talent than to the cohesion of the team. And this again is an achievement of the trainer. A trainer can be very directive as well, and plan the game to the very last detail. But then you get a team from which all creativity is taken, that plays rather defensive and stereotypical. Coaching a team with a lot of ball-conjurers, like Brazil, asks for a very good process-coach. See f.i. P. Winsemius (2005) about the famous football-player (and trainer) Johann Cruyff and leadership.

    4. Concluding considerations and other theme’s concerning leadership.

    All this shows a lot of possibilities to work with the given of leadership.

    Everybody’s own personal history determinates for a part, and in what manner, how they prefer a certain way of leadership. It is a pity that it is also a psychological given that people, who take being led very difficultly, also have problems with taking up responsibilities (even for themselves) and have trouble to work independently or take up leadership themselves. These people function at best in the environment that they protest again the hardest: under an authoritarian leader. Then they are angry with the leader, but less frightened.
    This last consideration proves something of the complexity of the problem of leadership. Even considering this complexity it is possible to point out some general rules, as was showed in the preceding pages:

    1. Different situations demand different styles of leadership. Often one speaks about situational leadership. See f.i. P. Hersey (2001)

    2. Even if it is not always known, management is not the same as leadership, and management alone is not enough.
    Management puts the accent on planning, on creating stability and routine, allocating responsibility, controlling and solving problems, taking care of compliancy, emphasizing the contractual commitments, keeping the power, distance and rationality of the manager, approaching the environment creatively. But leadership emphasize more vision and mission, creating change and renovation, motivation and inspiration, creating involvement, stimulating extra effort, interest in others and intuition thereof of the leader, empowerment of the others, a pro-active attitude and creating possibilities and conditions. See f.i. Muijen (2003) for a rather thorough exposé of these differences.
    The strange thing is that no-one would consider only managing a football-team, or playing without a trainer, while big companies do live in the illusion that they only need managers. Of course, also parenthood is an important case of leadership: would it feel good if your parents only managed you?

    3. To give leading on a top-scale (general manager f.i.) is totally different than leading on a middle-manager scale, and still different from leading a project. On these three scales the most adequate style of leadership will be mostly different.

    Actually, as yet nothing is said about the most essential question: “What is actually essential to leadership, when is someone adopting the attitude of a leader, and when as a subordinate?” Or more concrete: “How can you notice if someone is acting as a leader?” Related questions are: “Do you need power to act from the position as a leader? What is power actually, and what kinds of power are there?” and: “Does one need something like ‘inner strength’ to be a leader, and why does one need it?” The text “The rose of Axes, applied to leadership” gives, based on a model, answers to these questions.
    Ignace Hanoulle & Yves Hanoulle

    References:

    Hanoulle, Ignace (2004) The Rose of Axes applied to leadership course text.

    Hersey, Paul (2001). Situational leadership. Contact Amsterdam.

    Kauffman, Stuart (1995). At home in the Universe Oxford University Press.

    Milgram: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment .

    Muijen, Prof. Jaap J. van (2003). Leidersschapsontwikkeling: het hanteren van paradoxen, uitgegeven door de universiteit Nyenrode: http://www.nyenrode.nl/download/lectures/jvmuijen.pdf

    Winsemius, P. (2004). Je gaat het pas zien als je het doorhebt – over Cruijff en leiderschap. Balans.

     

    I am convinced that it is a developer’s job to make the life easier of its end user. (Just ask Joe End-User, he will agree with me.)

    For me that is two things making difficult things easier. And that is something most developers love to do. The hard part, is making sure an easy thing stays easy. (I guess you know more and better examples of how this often goes wrong.)

    Sometimes the client is best helped with an existing out-of-the-shelf application

    I have once helped a client, explaining him that what he wanted was part of excel. At first my boss was not so happy because he missed a 5.000 euro contract. But the client was so happy with his solution (which he still uses), that we won a 50.000 euro contract a few months later. Yep building software is all about trust, and being trustworthy.

    Lately I have made my life easier. I have automated my own office. And I have done so by using existing tools.

    Whenever there is a document coming into my house/office: I scan it, using a very nice all-in-one scanner. This is set automatically on my network. Where a program from irisscan will ocr it and put the result on another folder.

    I use a few batch files to copy things to my local computer, where I will put them (manually) in the correct folder. The same batch files are used to copy the changed folder back to the server.

    This process is not perfect, because I misplace files from time to time. Thank god, there is Microsoft desktop search for finding these documents.

    I know big companies spend a lot of money on these kind of solutions, my “cheap” solution makes my life in a one-man company a lot easier.

     

    English Version can be found in our book the leadership game
    Er zijn verschillende wijzen om met anderen in relatie te treden. Een manier om daarnaar te kijken is de relatieroos of roos van axen (F. Cuvelier). Deze relatieroos probeert een uitdrukking te zijn van een momentopname van een gedrag in relatie met iemand anders, of een soort gemiddeld gedrag binnen een relatie gedurende een bepaalde periode. Er wordt onderscheid gemaakt tussen zes mogelijke gedragswijzen:

    Op ieder van deze gedragswijzen kan de andere partner in de relatie reageren met gedrag uit dezelfde categorie of uit één der vijf andere axen. De posities “geven” en “ontvangen” spreken voor zich. Op te merken valt wel dat er heel verschillende zaken kunnen gegeven worden: goederen, zorg,  leidinggevende elementen (zoals instructies bvb.), nabijheid, enz.

    Ontvangen is helemaal iets anders dan nemen: bij ontvangen is er een actief accepteren van de gevende in zijn daad van het geven.

    Houden is het achterhouden van de zaken die zouden kunnen gegeven worden, het expliciet niet geven dus in een situatie waar geven zou kunnen verwacht worden. In deze positie zit de hautaine chef die laat bedelen om hulp, en die zich erg afschermt. Het is een heel veilige positie maar zijn ondergeschikten missen contact.

    Aanvallen kan zijn: straf geven, loon verminderen, kwaad worden, kritiek geven, enz.

    Weerstaan is anders en is een ondergeschikte positie. Het is het weigeren van elke hulp, het zich afschermen, het niet naleven van richtlijnen, enz. Expliciet protest tegen richtlijnen, gegeven door de chef, is eerder te zien als aanvallen dan als weerstaan. (Al zouden niet alle auteurs dit zo zien). Een voorbeeld: de chef wil dat de telefoons opgenomen worden in een bepaalde dienst. Als hij langskomt, doen de bedienden dat. Als hij weg is niet. Als hij vraagt hoe dat komt antwoorden de bedienden: “Er zal toevallig niemand aanwezig geweest zijn”. Deze houding is deze van het weerstaan. Als iemand zou antwoorden: “Dat is ons werk niet”, dan staat deze zelf in de aanval.

    Ondergaan: alles over zich laten gaan, controle verliezen over de situatie, schuldgevoelens hebben omdat je niets doet en toch in dat nietsdoen blijven zitten, noch ja noch nee zeggen op een aanbod en dan spijtig zijn uit de boot te vallen, enz. Het verzet is hier niet naar buiten toe maar gebeurt wel binnen in de persoon als een voortdurende innerlijke tweestrijd die depressie geeft.

    We kunnen drie zones interacties zien in de relatieroos: in de zone van geven en ontvangen is er samenwerking.

    In de zone van aanvallen en weerstaan is er conflict.

    En in de zone van houden en ondergaan leven de relatiepartners gewoon naast elkaar bijna zonder contact.

    De axen geven, houden en aanvallen zijn posities waarin een leidinggevende zich veel beweegt. Daartegenover zijn de drie andere posities (ontvangen, ondergaan en weerstaan) veeleer posities waarin ondergeschikten zich bewegen.

    Vanuit dit model gezien is leiding geven dus het zich bewegen in de posities geven, houden en aanvallen. Dat lijkt heel simpel maar het is niet zo simpel voor een leider om voortdurend in die posities te blijven. Daartoe zijn twee heel belangrijke elementen nodig: macht en innerlijke kracht.

    1) MACHT: als degene die wil leiding geven geen macht heeft zullen de ondergeschikten hem niet aanvaarden als chef. Ze zullen, om met de terminologie van de roos van axen te spreken, niet aanvaarden dat iemand voortdurend “boven de machtslijn (de lijn tussen de drie posities geven, houden en aanvallen enerzijds en ontvangen, ondergaan en weerstaan anderzijds) staat. Er zijn verschillende soorten macht die iemand kan hebben waardoor hij in een leidinggevende positie geduld wordt:

    • formele macht: dat is de macht die gegeven wordt door het systeem, door de organisatie waarin de chef en zijn ondergeschikten zich bevinden. Het is de macht die de chef krijgt van zijn oversten en van de sociale context.
    • sanctionele macht: dat is de macht die iemand heeft door de mogelijkheid te hebben iemand (positief of negatief) te sanctioneren.
    • competentiemacht: is de macht die iemand heeft als hij als competent aangezien wordt voor de taak door de groep mensen die deze taak moeten uitvoeren.
    • informatiemacht: is de macht die iemand heeft die over veel informatie beschikt die relevant is voor de taak die de groep moet verrichten.
    • referentiemacht: een chef heeft deze macht als de anderen zich spiegelen aan hem, als ze willen gelijken op hem, als ze bij hem willen zijn, enz. Men zegt soms nog dat zo iemand “charisma” heeft.

    Iedere persoon heeft zo’n macht slechts op een bepaald gebied: zo kan een chef veel competentiemacht hebben voor verpleegkundige taken, en helemaal geen competentiemacht voor psycho-sociale begeleidingstaken. Op dezelfde manier heeft de chef slechts bevoegdheid gekregen van zijn oversten op bepaalde gebieden en is zijn formele macht op andere gebieden onbestaand. Evenzo heeft de chef meestal slecht sanctionele macht binnen een bepaalde omgeving en in verband met een bepaald soort werk. En voor informatiemacht geldt hetzelfde: iedereen heeft slechts informatie ver een bepaald gebied.

    Voor referentiemacht is minder duidelijk aan te tonen dat ze slechts geldt op een bepaald gebied.

    Een chef die leiding geeft voor een taak die zich bevindt op een gebied waar hij veel macht heeft, wordt weinig onder vuur genomen. Toch is geen enkele leider vrij van tegenreacties. Vandaar dat ook het tweede element, namelijk innerlijke kracht, noodzakelijk is om leiding te kunnen geven.

    2) INNERLIJKE KRACHT: ook al heeft de chef voldoende macht (en een minimum van macht is zeker noodzakelijk), toch krijgt hij dikwijls veel tegenwind. Op zo’n moment staat hij heel eenzaam. En ook op momenten dat hij geen tegenkantingen krijgt staat hij in een heel eenzame, gevende positie.

    Vandaar dat de chef over veel innerlijke kracht moet beschikken om te kunnen blijven leiding geven. Men zou zich kunnen afvragen: “Kan dat dan eigenlijk als veel ondergeschikten protesteren tegen een chef, dat deze het uiteindelijk haalt? Het is toch een ongelijk gevecht, één tegen velen!” Dat lijkt inderdaad onwaarschijnlijk, maar er is een belangrijk gegeven uit onze cultuur dat de chef  ter hulp komt: de ondergeschikten kunnen zich vrijelijk permitteren in de positie “weerstaan” te gaan staan, en dat is flink vervelend voor de chef, maar in die positie kan de chef nog altijd, zij het met veel moeite, zorgen dat de taak verricht wordt. De chef voelt zich wel totaal afgekeurd en afgewezen maar als hij voldoende innerlijke kracht heeft en zijn batterijen op tijd elders oplaadt is dat te overleven. Maar de ondergeschikten kunnen zich niet permitteren om zelf boven de gezagslijn te gaan staan door bvb. te gaan aanvallen. Want het is een cultureel gegeven dat de andere ondergeschikten dat van elkaar niet verdragen. Met andere woorden, iemand die de leider aanvalt riskeert sterk iedereen tegen zich te krijgen.

    De onderliggende reden daarvoor is dat veel mensen heel veel nood hebben aan een leider en zich onveilig voelen als de leiderspositie sterk aangevallen wordt.

    De nederlandse versie : De roos van axen toegepast op leiderschap

    There are different ways to stand in relation to others. One way of looking at it is the relation-rose or the rose of axes (F. Cuvelier). This relation-rose tries to be the expression of a snapshot of behavior in a relation to someone else, of a kind of an average behaviour in a relation during a certain time. One distinguishes six possible ways of behavior.

    The Rose of Axes

    In each of these kinds of behaviour the other partner in the relationship may react with behaviour from the same category or from one of the five other axes. The positions ‘to give’ and ‘to receive’ are complementary and easy to understand. One should take notice that there are many different things that can be given: products, care, elements of leading (for instance instructions), closeness, etc.
    Receiving is totally different from taking: with receiving there is an active accepting of the giver in his act of giving.
    To keep is the withholding of things that could be given, explicitly withholding in a situation where giving could be expected. It is the position of the arrogant employer who makes his subordinates beg for help, and who shields himself very much. It is a very safe position, but the subordinates miss contact.
    Confronting can mean: punishment, wage cut, getting angry, giving criticism, etc.
    Resistance is different and is connected with the position of the subordinate. It concerns refusing all help, shielding oneself, not observing directions, etc.
    Explicitly protest against directions given by the boss is rather to be interpreted as confronting than as resistance. (Although not all authors would agree). An example: the employer demands that all phone-calls are answered by certain employees. When he is present the employees do it. When he is absent they don’t. When he demands an explanation, the employees answer: ‘Probably nobody was here’. This is the way of resistance. If someone would answer: ‘This is not our job’, than he himself is in the position of confronting.
    To undergo: to let it be, to lose control over the situation, feeling guilty for not doing anything and still continuing to do nothing, being unable tot say yes or no to an offer, and then feeling sorry for not participating, etc. Here the resistance is not against the outside world, but happens inside the person, as an ongoing internal conflict that leads to depression.
    We can see three zones in interaction in the relation-rose: in the zone of giving and receiving there is cooperation.
    In the zone of confronting and resistance there is conflict.
    And in the zone of keeping and undergoing the relation-partners live beside each other, almost without any contact. The axes giving, keeping and confronting are positions wherein mostly the leader moves. Facing it are three positions (receiving, undergoing, resisting), these are the positions of the subordinates.
    Seen from this model, leadership is thus the movement in the positions giving, keeping and confronting. This looks simple, but it is not so simple for a leader to always stay in these positions. One needs two very important elements: power and inner strength.

    1. POWER: if the one seeking leadership has no power the subordinates will not accept him as boss. To speak with the terms of the axes-rose: they will not accept that someone at all times stands above the power-line (the line between the three positions giving, keeping and confronting on the one side and receiving, undergoing and resisting on the other side). There are different kinds of power through which one is accepted as a leader.

    – formal power: the power given by the system, by the organisation wherein the boss and the subordinates are placed. It is the power the boss gets from his superiors and from the social context.

    – sanction-power: this is the power someone has through the possibility to sanction someone (positive or negative).

    –  competence-power: is the power someone has when he is seen as competent for the task by the group of people which has to realise this task.

    – information-power: is the power of the one who has a lot of information relevant to the task the group has to realise.

    – referential-power: a boss has this kind of power when other people want to take example from him, want to be like him, want to be with him, etc. One says sometimes that someone like this has ‘charisma’.

    Such power one has only in a certain area: thus an employer can have a lot of competence-power for nursing tasks, and none for psycho-social support-tasks. In the same way a boss gets only authority from his superiors on certain levels and his formal power on other levels is non-existent. Also the employer has only sanction-power in a certain area and in connection with a certain kind of work. And the same applies for information-power: everyone has only information on a certain level.
    Concerning referential-power, it is less clear to prove that it applies only on a certain area.
    A boss who gives leading for a task which is in the area where he has a lot of power is seldom under attack. Yet no leader is free from counter-reactions. Hence the second element, the inner strength, is needed to be a leader.

    2. INNER STRENGTH: Even if the boss has enough power (a minimum of power is certainly necessary), he often gets opposition. In such a time he is very lonely. Even in times when he does not get opposition, he is in a very lonely, giving position. Hence the employer needs a lot of inner strength to be able to stay a leader. One could ask oneself: “Is it possible, when many subordinates protest against a boss, that he wins at the end? It is rather an unfair fight: one against many!” It may seem unlikely, but there is an important given in our culture that helps the boss: the subordinates are permitted to stand freely in the position ‘resist’, and this is very annoying for the employer, but in this position the employer still can make sure, although it is very difficult, that the task is realized. The employer does feel he is completely disapproved of and rejected, but if he has enough inner strength, and he can charge his batteries in time elsewhere, he can survive. But the subordinates can not be permitted to go above the authority-line themselves, for instance by attacking. It is indeed a cultural given that subordinates would not take this from each other. In other words, someone who attacks the leader takes a strong risk that everybody will turn against him. The underlying reason is that many people have a great need of a leader and feel unsafe when the position of the leader is under attack.

    This text is published as part of our free book: the leadership game